Today’s post is going to be a bit of a departure from the theme of coping with illness and self-care that has been developing in the last month. I am feeling a pull to write about something a bit different today. This post was inspired by a combination of things. First of all, the post from Marie Ennis O’Connor about “when it is time to quit?” led me to review my own posts about when quitting is healthy. So I was already in the mindset of thinking about healthy change. Then I had several conversations with people who are facing big changes.
It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.–Alan Cohen
These conversations were with clients and family members. They were about all kinds of issues–a move, changes in families, changes in jobs, etc. But one theme kept coming through loud and clear. All week long, I have heard people say:
“I am so scared to do this. What if I am making a mistake?”
I think those two sentences pretty accurately capture the way that most of us feel when we are facing change. Whether the change is forced on us or of our own choice, change feels pretty scary. We know how to do things in our normal routine. Even if some of those things aren’t entirely healthy, they are familiar. There is a comfort in familiarity, even if it is also painful. Because of that, many people choose to stay in jobs, relationships, behavior patterns, etc. that are less than what they really want and need. We put off change.
When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny. ― Paulo Coelho
I’d like this post to be interactive, so I’m going to ask you to take a moment and think about a part of your life where you may have been postponing change. Maybe your self-talk has sounded like this:
- Now isn’t the right time.
- I don’t know exactly what I will do next.
- What if this is a mistake?
- What will my mom/partner/friends/boss think about me?
- I’m not sure this is responsible.
- I don’t know if this is fair to others around me.
- I’m scared.
A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for. ― William G.T. Shedd
If any of that sounds familiar, you may be in a place where it is time to be brave. Because if we are not growing, we are stuck. And stagnation might give the illusion of safety for a little while, but ultimately, it comes at a big cost. While William Shedd was talking about boats, he could have been talking about us as well. We are intended to grow and change–even when that is scary.
So, if that sounds familiar to you, I am inviting you to take a first step toward brave action in your life. What can you do today, this week, and this month to begin to move toward a healthy change that you’ve been afraid of?
In the comments, please feel free to share your plans to act–I’d love to support you in your moment of bravery!
Image Credit: Photo by shorts and longs via Flicker under Creative Commons License